It's been a fairly eventful week around here! Wednesday we went to the good old Department of Homeland Security office (for the billionth and last time in the adoption process) and got Clarissa's Certificate of Citizenship.
When Clarissa was legally adopted by us she technically automatically became a US citizen because her parents are US citizens, but of course the government made us jump through a thousand hoops to get her citizenship recognized by them.
So a few months ago we filled out a big, complicated packet of information to apply for her Certificate of Citizenship, which is what she needs to have her citizenship status recognized by the government. It's pretty much the last step in the adoption process.
We thought that they were going to just mail us her Certificate of Citizenship, but a few weeks ago we got a letter from USCIS letting us know that her COC was approved but that we had to attend a citizenship ceremony to surrender her green card and pick up her COC.
Now, because we all know that I tend to overthink things, I wasn't so excited about a citizenship ceremony. Here's the thing. I know that this adoption was in Clarissa's best interest and becoming a US citizen is a good thing. I really do. But I feel bad that she lost her Korean citizenship. To me it's just one more thing that we had to take away from her. Korea doesn't allow internationally adopted children to retain duel citizenship, (partly because if they did all the male Korean adoptees would be called into mandatory military service with the Korean military when they turned 18) but if they did we most likely would have chosen that for her. But we didn't have that option and when she was adopted by us she lost her Korean citizenship. I know it probably doesn't really matter in the long run and I know that I'm probably completely overthinking it and that it's irrational that it bothers me, but this is my blog and I reserve the right to be irrational. :)
It's not something I really think about that much until they sent us a letter telling us that we had to attend a citizenship ceremony. I think a citizenship ceremony is the most wonderful thing in the world for all those people who have dreamed of becoming US citizens and have taken the citizenship test and have finally reached their goal. I'm proud of those people and they deserve a big ceremony. But when I thought of celebrating Clarissa's citizenship I just couldn't help feeling like we'd be celebrating that she was no longer a Korean citizen. She didn't choose any of this. It was chosen for her. I know, it's irrational. I'm completely aware that it's silly. Clarissa doesn't know the difference and most likely will never care that she lost her Korean citizenship. She's only going to remember being an American.
So I kind of drug my feet about the ceremony. By Wednesday morning I was dreading it. But we put her in a pretty dress and took her over the USCIS office for the ceremony.
As soon as we walked in the door my feelings of not wanting to be there went away. We went in and there was a table set up in the front and they were taking people up one at a time to hand over their green card and get their COC. The room was filled with people of all different races and cultures who were so excited for their special day. It was really the most amazing thing to watch. People were carrying little American flags, getting their picture taken next to a big flag and there was such a feeling of excitement and pride in the air. I sat in a chair with Clarissa in my lap with tears in my eyes as I watched all those people get the official paper that declared them American citizens. I was so happy for them that I wanted to give them all a hug. I wanted to hear all their stories. I wanted to know where they all came from and what brought them here. It was a neat experience that I will never forget.
Finally it was Clarissa's turn and we went up to the table, they commented on her pretty dress, they took her green card, showed me where to sign her COC and just like that, it was official. When it was over they handed Clarissa her own little American flag to wave.
I'm still sad that she lost her Korean citizenship. I'm sad for all the things she had to lose to come here. But I'm happy for all the wonderful things she gained and I hope someday when she understands everything that happened in the first years of her life she's happy too.
When we walked out of the USCIS office Shawn commented that it signified the official end to the adoption process. We first walked into that office in 2007 to get a federal background check and to turn in our I-600 form back when we were brand new to the adoption process and had no idea what we were doing. We had no idea where the road was going to take us back then. Walking out of that office on Wednesday, holding Clarissa's hand and watching her proudly wave her American flag was a really neat moment for us. We did it. We've officially come to the end of the adoption process. There were many times where it felt like it was never going to end, but it did. I love happy endings. :)